Understanding Code-Switching in Borderline PD

February 20, 2024 Karen Mae Vister

Code-switching in borderline personality disorder (BPD) is something I've been trying to understand lately. I know so far that it's a survival strategy I've clung to in a reality where the threat of rejection casts its shadow over everything. Let's look a little bit deeper at code-switching.

For me, code-switching is like shape-shifting through language, behavior, and demeanor to fit into different social landscapes. It's a skill we all possess to some extent, driven by our innate desire to belong. But for those of us grappling with BPD, code-switching in BPD takes on a whole new level of significance.

Code-Switching in BPD as a Default Mechanism

Sometimes code-switching in BPD feels like my default setting. It's not just about blending in; it's about avoiding the dreaded sense of abandonment that lurks in the shadows of every interaction. The fear of being cast aside, deemed unworthy, is like relentless noise in the background. As a result, I not only instinctively mirror the people around me, but I tend to alter my personality traits to fit social expectations.

The emotional rollercoaster of code-switching in BPD is a constant battle between outward poise and inner turmoil. I tend to suppress my intense emotions to conform to social norms, only to experience a surge of emotions later when I'm alone or in a safe environment. 

Unstable Sense of Self and Code-Switching in BPD

My brand of BPD is characterized by an unstable sense of self. Code-switching in BPD allows me to adapt to different social roles and environments, providing a sense of identity coherence and validation. Concerning my fear of abandonment, code-switching in BPD gives me a superpower. I'm able to establish rapport and foster connections, even if it means sacrificing authenticity.

However, in analyzing code-switching in BPD, I'm realizing it is not sustainable. It's exhausting constantly contorting myself to fit into molds that were never meant for me. I realize letting go of this tendency will not happen overnight, but I'm willing to peel back the layers bit by bit. My goal this year is to reclaim some semblance of authenticity. 

Dive into my latest video, where I touch on self-discovery and the fleeting moments when it's safe to let your authentic self shine through. In this video, I'll be sharing how I've learned to show up as my authentic self despite having BPD.

APA Reference
Mae, K. (2024, February 20). Understanding Code-Switching in Borderline PD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Karen Mae Vister

Karen Mae Vister, author of her blog, Over the Borderline, dedicates her work to providing valuable content and support for individuals on the path to recovery from borderline personality disorder. Find Karen Mae on Instagram and her blog.

March, 11 2024 at 5:31 am

I just wanted to thank you for your article and your honesty, i too code switch, not all good personalities, but in the most they are socially acceptable, it often leaves me quite confused to who i am, i also often change my dialect, as i am from the North of England but live in the south and have done for many years. Society and social situations are exhausting and i avoid them wherever possible. Thanks again.

March, 13 2024 at 12:12 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Code-switching, whether it's linguistic or behavioral, can indeed create a sense of disconnect and confusion about one's true identity. Remember, your experiences are valid, and it's okay to take breaks and prioritize your well-being. I, too, find social situations exhausting, though I am finding it helpful to explore ways to integrate different aspects of myself by identifying spaces where I feel comfortable being authentic. Thank you for tuning in and taking the time to leave a comment!

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